Stowmarket: Town fights to retain customers

BUSINESS people in Stowmarket have sung the praises of the town as they battle against the recession.

Situated in the middle of Suffolk, the town is often overshadowed by nearby Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, according to business owners.

But the town is fighting back with several new independent businesses opening in the past few months, including The River Bistro, in Prentice Road, near the railway station.

Owner and head chef Eric The, who opened the eating establishment in May, said: “It’s been very good. We have been building since the start. We are always full – we have to turn a lot of people away.”

The choice of shops in Stowmarket has been praised by business owners.

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Jamie Warner, owner of customised clothing specialists Touchline Group, based in the Charles Industrial Estate, commented on the choice of shops in Stowmarket, saying: “It absolutely has a good choice, it has a bit of everything. There are the smaller shops which is good and we are getting more of the larger brands which has helped the town.”

National chains Costa, Morrisons and Wetherspoon have all invested in new shops in the town recently.

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Dot Lucas, who works at Vivien Joseph Jewellery and Photographers in Ipswich Street, said: “It’s been improving to a degree, with one or two more shops open. I do all my shopping in here, there’s enough choice unless you particularly want to go to a big town.

“We have to be positive and support our local shops – otherwise they go. That’s happened in lots of towns.”

Tony Hutchinson, the newly-appointed chairman of Stowmarket Town Centre Partnership, said: “Compared with other towns we do not have nearly as many empty shops as towns of a similar size. We need to increase footfall in the town – get more people in there and we are doing that by putting on events.”

This month the town centre partnership, alongside Stowmarket Town Council, has put on Stow Summer Music – which sees acts play in the town every Saturday.

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